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FY 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant Program

American Government Buses

FY 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant Program

K. Jane Williams
Federal Transit Administration
24 January 2020

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 16 (Friday, January 24, 2020)]
[Pages 4348-4354]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-01140]



Federal Transit Administration

FY 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant 

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
opportunity to apply for $130 million in competitive grants under the 
fiscal year (FY) 2020 Low or No Emission Grant Program (Low-No Program) 
(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number: 20.526). As required by 
Federal public transportation law, funds will be awarded competitively 
for the purchase or lease of low or no emission vehicles that use 
advanced technologies for transit revenue operations, including related 
equipment or facilities. Projects

[[Page 4349]]

may include costs incidental to the acquisition of buses or to the 
construction of facilities, such as the costs of related workforce 
development and training activities, and project administration 
expenses. FTA may award additional funding that is made available to 
the program prior to the announcement of project selections.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 17, 
2020. Prospective applicants should initiate the process by registering 
on the GRANTS.GOV website promptly to ensure completion of the 
application process before the submission deadline. Instructions for 
applying can be found on FTA's website at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ``FIND'' module of GRANTS.GOV. The funding 
opportunity ID is FTA-2020-005-LowNo. Mail and fax submissions will not 
be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victor Waldron, FTA Office of Program 
Management, 202-366-5183, or victor.waldron@dot.gov.


Table of Contents

A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information
D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review Information
F. Federal Award Administration Information
G. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information
H. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

A. Program Description

    Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)) authorizes 
FTA to award grants for low or no emission buses through a competitive 
process, as described in this notice. The Low-No Program provides 
funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or 
lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including 
acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting 
facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities. 
FTA recognizes that a significant transformation is occurring in the 
transit bus industry, with the increasing availability of low and zero 
emission bus vehicles for transit revenue operations.
    In FY 2020, FTA is encouraging applicants to propose projects that 
introduce innovative technologies or practices in support of FTA's 
Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative. FTA is focused on 
the introduction of new technology not commonly found within U.S. 
transit systems such as integrated fare payment systems permitting 
complete trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Innovation can 
also include practices such as new public transportation operational 
models, financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture.

B. Federal Award Information

    Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5338(a)(2)(M)) 
authorizes $55,000,000 in FY 2020 for the Low-No Program. The Further 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 appropriated an additional 
$75,000,000 for the Low-No Program for a total $130,000,000 available 
in FY 2020.
    In FY 2019, the program received applications for 157 projects 
requesting a total of $500 million. Thirty-eight projects were funded 
at a total of $84.95 million. FTA may cap the amount a single recipient 
or State may receive as part of the selection process. In FY 2019, for 
example, the largest amount awarded to a single applicant was $3 
million and no State received more than 3.5 percent of the total 
funding available.
    FTA will grant pre-award authority to incur costs for selected 
projects beginning on the date FY 2020 project selections are announced 
on FTA's website. Funds are available for obligation three fiscal years 
after the fiscal year in which the competitive awards are announced. 
Funds are only available for projects that have not incurred costs 
prior to the announcement of project selections.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants include designated recipients, States, local 
governmental authorities, and Indian Tribes. Proposals for funding 
projects in rural (non-urbanized) areas may be submitted as part of a 
consolidated State proposal. To be considered eligible, applicants must 
be able to demonstrate the requisite legal, financial, and technical 
capabilities to receive and administer Federal funds under this 
program. States and other eligible applicants may submit consolidated 
proposals for projects in urbanized areas. Proposals may contain 
projects to be implemented by the recipient or its eligible 
subrecipients. Eligible subrecipients are entities that are otherwise 
eligible recipients under this program.
    As permitted by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, 
applicants to the Low-No Program may submit applications that include 
partnerships with other entities that intend to participate in the 
implementation of the project, including, but not limited to, specific 
vehicle manufacturers, equipment vendors, owners or operators of 
related facilities, or project consultants. If an application that 
involves such a partnership is selected for funding, the competitive 
selection process will be deemed to satisfy the requirement for a 
competitive procurement under 49 U.S.C. 5325(a) for the named entities. 
Applicants are advised that any changes to the proposed partnership 
will require FTA written approval, must be consistent with the scope of 
the approved project, and may necessitate a competitive procurement.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The maximum Federal share for projects that involve leasing or 
acquiring transit buses (including clean fuel or alternative fuel 
vehicles) for purposes of complying with or maintaining compliance with 
the Clean Air Act is 85 percent of the net project cost.
    The maximum Federal share for the cost of acquiring, installing, or 
constructing vehicle-related equipment or facilities (including clean 
fuel or alternative fuel vehicle-related equipment or facilities) for 
purposes of complying with or maintaining compliance with the Clean Air 
Act is 90 percent of the net project cost of such equipment or 
facilities that are attributable to compliance with the Clean Air Act. 
The award recipient must itemize the cost of specific, discrete, 
vehicle-related equipment associated with compliance with the Clean Air 
Act to be eligible for the maximum 90 percent Federal share for these 
    Eligible sources of local match include the following: Cash from 
non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public 
transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising 
and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a 
State or local social service agency or private social service 
organization; revenues generated from value capture financing 
mechanisms; funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or 
depreciation cash fund or reserve; new capital; or in-kind 
contributions. Transportation development credits or in-kind match may 
be used for local match if identified and documented in the 

3. Eligible Projects

    Under the Low-No Program (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)(1)(B)), eligible 
projects include

[[Page 4350]]

projects or programs of projects in an eligible area for: (1) 
Purchasing or leasing low or no emission buses; (2) acquiring low or no 
emission buses with a leased power source; (3) constructing or leasing 
facilities and related equipment for low or no emission buses; (4) 
constructing new public transportation facilities to accommodate low or 
no emission buses; (5) or rehabilitating or improving existing public 
transportation facilities to accommodate low or no emission buses. As 
required by Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)(5)), 
FTA will only consider eligible projects relating to the acquisition or 
leasing of low or no emission buses or bus facilities that make greater 
reductions in energy consumption and harmful emissions than comparable 
standard buses or other low or no emission buses and are part of the 
recipient's long-term integrated fleet management plan.
    A low or no-emission bus is defined as a passenger vehicle used to 
provide public transportation that significantly reduces energy 
consumption or harmful emissions, including direct carbon emissions, 
when compared to a standard vehicle. The statutory definition includes 
zero-emission transit buses, which are defined as buses that produce no 
direct carbon emissions and no particulate matter emissions under any 
and all possible operational modes and conditions. Examples of zero 
emission bus technologies include, but are not limited to, hydrogen 
fuel-cell buses and battery-electric buses. All new transit bus models 
must successfully complete FTA bus testing for production transit buses 
pursuant to FTA's Bus Testing regulation (49 CFR part 665) in order to 
be procured with funds awarded under the Low-No Program. All transit 
vehicles must be procured from certified transit vehicle manufacturers 
in accordance with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) 
regulations (49 CFR part 26). The development or deployment of 
prototype vehicles is not eligible for funding under the Low-No 
    Recipients are permitted to use up to 0.5 percent of their 
requested grant award for workforce development activities eligible 
under Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5314(b)) and an 
additional 0.5 percent for costs associated with training at the 
National Transit Institute. Applicants must identify the proposed use 
of funds for these activities in the project proposal and identify them 
separately in the project budget.
    If a single project proposal involves multiple public 
transportation providers, such as when an agency acquires vehicles that 
will be operated by another agency, the proposal must include a 
detailed statement regarding the role of each public transportation 
provider in the implementation of the project.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application

    Applications must be submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV. 
General information for submitting applications through GRANTS.GOV can 
be found at www.fta.dot.gov/howtoapply along with specific instructions 
for the forms and attachments required for submission. Mail and fax 
submissions will not be accepted. A complete proposal submission 
consists of two forms: The SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance 
(available at GRANTS.GOV) and the supplemental form for the FY 2020 
Low-No Program (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV or the FTA website at 
https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/lowno). Failure to submit 
the information as requested can delay review or disqualify the 

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    A strong transportation network is critical to the functioning and 
growth of the American economy. The nation's industry depends on the 
transportation network to move the goods that it produces, and 
facilitate the movements of the workers who are responsible for that 
production. When the nation's highways, railways, and ports function 
well, that infrastructure connects people to jobs, increases the 
efficiency of delivering goods and thereby cuts the costs of doing 
business, reduces the burden of commuting, and improves overall well-
    Rural transportation networks play a vital role in supporting our 
national economic vitality. Addressing the deteriorating conditions and 
disproportionately high fatality rates on our rural transportation 
infrastructure is of critical interest to the Department, as rural 
transportation networks face unique challenges in safety, 
infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage. Consistent 
with the R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative, the Department encourages applicants 
to consider how the project will address the challenges faced by rural 
a. Proposal Submission
    A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: (1) The SF-
424 Application for Federal Assistance; and (2) the supplemental form 
for the FY 2020 Low-No Program. The supplemental form and any 
supporting documents must be attached to the ``Attachments'' section of 
the SF-424. The application must include responses to all sections of 
the SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental 
form, unless indicated as optional. The information on the supplemental 
form will be used to determine applicant and project eligibility for 
the program, and to evaluate the proposal against the selection 
criteria described in part E of this notice.
    FTA will accept only one supplemental form per SF-424 submission. 
FTA encourages States and other applicants to consider submitting a 
single supplemental form that includes multiple activities to be 
evaluated as a consolidated proposal. If a State or other applicant 
chooses to submit separate proposals for individual consideration by 
FTA, each proposal must be submitted using a separate SF-424 and 
supplemental form.
    Applicants may attach additional supporting information to the SF-
424 submission, including but not limited to letters of support, 
project budgets, fleet status reports, or excerpts from relevant 
planning documents. Any supporting documentation must be described and 
referenced by file name in the appropriate response section of the 
supplemental form, or it may not be reviewed.
    Information such as applicant name, Federal amount requested, local 
match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be requested in 
varying degrees of detail on both the SF-424 and supplemental form. 
Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the 
forms. If information is copied into the supplemental form from another 
source, applicants should verify that pasted text is fully captured on 
the supplemental form and has not been truncated by the character 
limits built into the form. Applicants should use both the ``Check 
Package for Errors'' and the ``Validate Form'' validation buttons on 
both forms to check all required fields on the forms, and ensure that 
the Federal and local amounts specified are consistent.
b. Application Content
    The SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental 
form will prompt applicants for the required information, including:

i. Applicant name

[[Page 4351]]

ii. Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
iii. Key contact information (including contact name, address, email 
address, and phone)
iv. Congressional district(s) where project will take place
v. Project information (including title, an executive summary, and 
vi. A detailed description of the need for the project
vii. A detailed description on how the project will support the Low-No 
Program objectives
viii. Evidence that the project is consistent with local and regional 
planning documents
ix. Evidence that the applicant can provide the local cost share
x. A description of the technical, legal, and financial capacity of the 
xi. A detailed project budget
xii. An explanation of the scalability of the project
xiii. Details on the local matching funds
xiv. A detailed project timeline
xv. Whether the project impacts an Opportunity Zone

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

    Each applicant is required to: (1) Be registered in SAM before 
submitting an application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier 
in its application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM 
registration with current information at all times during which the 
applicant has an active Federal award or an application or plan under 
consideration by FTA. These requirements do not apply if the applicant 
has an exemption approved by FTA under Federal grants and agreements 
law (2 CFR 25.110(d)). FTA may not make an award until the applicant 
has complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and SAM 
requirements. If an applicant has not fully complied with the 
requirements by the time FTA is ready to make an award, FTA may 
determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award and 
use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another 
applicant. All applicants must provide a unique entity identifier 
provided by SAM. Registration in SAM may take as little as 3-5 business 
days, but since there could be unexpected steps or delays (for example, 
if there is a need to obtain an Employer Identification Number), FTA 
recommends allowing ample time, up to several weeks, for completion of 
all steps. For additional information on obtaining a unique entity 
identifier, please visit www.sam.gov.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 17, 2020. GRANTS.GOV 
attaches a time stamp to each application at the time of submission. 
Proposals submitted after the deadline will only be considered under 
extraordinary circumstances not under the applicant's control. Mail and 
fax submissions will not be accepted.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive an email message from GRANTS.GOV with 
confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV. If a notice of 
failed validation or incomplete materials is received, the applicant 
must address the reason for the failed validation, as described in the 
email notice, and resubmit before the submission deadline. If making a 
resubmission for any reason, include all original attachments 
regardless of which attachments were updated and check the box on the 
supplemental form indicating this is a resubmission.
    FTA urges applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior 
to the due date to allow time to receive the validation messages and to 
correct any problems that may have caused a rejection notification. 
GRANTS.GOV scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the 
GRANTS.GOV website. Deadlines will not be extended due to scheduled 
website maintenance.
    Applicants are encouraged to begin the process of registration on 
the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to 
complete before an application can be submitted. Registered applicants 
may still be required to take steps to keep their registration up to 
date before submissions can be made successfully: (1) Registration in 
SAM is renewed annually, and (2) persons making submissions on behalf 
of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must be authorized 
in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to make submissions.

5. Restrictions

    Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a grant 
agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 

6. Other Submission Requirements

    Applicants are encouraged to identify scaled funding options in 
case insufficient funding is available to fund a project at the full 
requested amount. If an applicant indicates that a project is scalable, 
the applicant must provide an appropriate minimum funding amount that 
will fund an eligible project that achieves the objectives of the 
program and meets all relevant program requirements. The applicant must 
provide a clear explanation of how the project budget would be affected 
by a reduced award. FTA may award a lesser amount regardless of whether 
a scalable option is provided.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

    Projects will be evaluated primarily on the responses provided in 
the supplemental form. Additional information may be provided to 
support the responses; however, any additional documentation must be 
directly referenced on the supplemental form, including the file name 
where the additional information can be found. FTA will evaluate 
proposals for the Low-No Program based on the criteria described in 
this notice.
    Consistent with the Department's R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department recognizes that rural 
transportation networks face unique challenges. To the extent that 
those challenges are reflected in the merit criteria listed in this 
section, the Department will consider how the activities proposed in 
the application will address those challenges, regardless of the 
geographic location of those activities.
a. Demonstration of Need
    Since the purpose of this program is to fund vehicles and 
facilities, applications will be evaluated based on the quality and 
extent to which they demonstrate how the proposed project will address 
an unmet need for capital investment in vehicles and/or supporting 
facilities. For example, an applicant may demonstrate that it requires 
additional or improved charging or maintenance facilities for low or no 
emission vehicles, that it intends to replace existing vehicles that 
have exceeded their minimum useful life, or that it requires additional 
vehicles to meet current ridership demands.
    FTA will consider an applicant's responses to the following 
criteria when assessing the need for capital investment underlying the 
proposed project:
    i. Consistency with Long-Term Fleet Management Plan: As required by

[[Page 4352]]

Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)(5)(b)), all 
project proposals must demonstrate that they are part of the intended 
recipient's long-term integrated fleet management plan, as demonstrated 
through an existing transit asset management program, fleet procurement 
plan, or similarly documented program or policy. These plans must be 
attached to the application. FTA will evaluate the consistency of the 
proposed project with the applicant's long-term fleet management plan, 
as well as the applicant's previous experience with the relevant low or 
no emissions vehicle technologies.
    ii. For low or no emission bus projects (replacement and/or or 
expansion): Applicants must provide information on the age, condition, 
and performance of the vehicles to be replaced by the proposed project. 
Vehicles to be replaced must have met their minimum useful life at the 
time of project completion. For service expansion requests, applicants 
must provide information on the proposed service expansion and the 
benefits for transit riders and the community from the new service. For 
all vehicle projects, the proposal must address whether the project 
conforms to FTA's spare ratio guidelines. Low or no emission vehicles 
funded under this program are not exempted from FTA's standard spare 
ratio requirements, which apply to and are calculated on the agency's 
entire fleet.
    iii. For bus facility and equipment projects (replacement, 
rehabilitation, and/or expansion): Applicants must provide information 
on the age and condition of the asset to be rehabilitated or replaced 
relative to its minimum useful life.
b. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will support 
the statutory requirements of the Low-No Program (49 U.S.C. 
5339(c)(5)(A)). In particular, FTA will consider the quality and extent 
to which applications demonstrate how the proposed project will: (1) 
Reduce Energy Consumption; (2) Reduce Harmful Emissions; and (3) Reduce 
Direct Carbon Emissions. FTA will also evaluate the potential of the 
proposed project to accelerate innovation.
    i. Reduce Energy Consumption: Applicants must describe how the 
proposed project will reduce energy consumption. FTA will evaluate 
applications based on the degree to which the proposed technology 
reduces energy consumption as compared to more common vehicle 
propulsion technologies.
    ii. Reduce Harmful Emissions: Applicants must demonstrate how the 
proposed vehicles or facility will reduce the emission of particulates 
that create local air pollution, which leads to local environmental 
health concerns, smog, and unhealthy ozone concentrations. FTA will 
evaluate the rate of particulate emissions by the proposed vehicles or 
vehicles to be supported by the proposed facility, compared to the 
emissions from the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to the spare 
fleet as a result of the proposed project, as well as comparable 
standard buses.
    iii. Reduce Direct Carbon Emissions: Applicants should demonstrate 
how the proposed vehicles or facility will reduce emissions of 
greenhouse gases from transit vehicle operations. FTA will evaluate the 
rate of direct carbon emissions by the proposed vehicles or vehicles to 
be supported by the proposed facility, compared to the emissions from 
the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to the spare fleet as a 
result of the proposed project, as well as comparable standard buses.
    iv. Accelerating Innovation: Applicants may also demonstrate how 
the project will accelerate the introduction of innovative technologies 
or practices such as integrated fare payment systems permitting 
complete trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Innovation can 
also include practices such as new public transportation operational 
models, financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture.
c. Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project is consistent 
with local and regional long-range planning documents and local 
government priorities. FTA will evaluate applications based on the 
quality and extent to which they assess whether the project is 
consistent with the transit priorities identified in the long-range 
plan; and/or contingency/illustrative projects included in that plan; 
or the locally developed human services public transportation 
coordinated plan. Applicants may submit copies of the relevant pages of 
such plans to support their application. FTA will consider how the 
project will support regional goals and applicants may submit support 
letters from local and regional planning organizations attesting to the 
consistency of the proposed project with these plans.
    Evidence of additional local or regional prioritization may include 
letters of support for the project from local government officials, 
public agencies, and non-profit or private sector partners.
d. Local Financial Commitment
    Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and 
describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or 
will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. FTA 
will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of 
local financial commitment to the project. Applicants should submit 
evidence of the availability of funds for the project; for example, by 
including a board resolution, letter of support from the State, or 
other documentation of the source of local funds such as a budget 
document highlighting the line item or section committing funds to the 
proposed project. In addition, an applicant may propose a local cost 
share that is greater than the minimum requirement or provide 
documentation of previous local investments in the project, which 
cannot be used to satisfy local matching requirements, as evidence of 
local financial commitment. Additional consideration will be given to 
those projects that propose a larger local cost share. FTA will also 
note if an applicant proposes to use grant funds only for the 
incremental cost of new technologies over the cost of replacing 
vehicles with standard propulsion technologies.
e. Project Implementation Strategy
    FTA will rate projects higher if grant funds can be obligated 
within 12 months of selection and the project can be implemented within 
a reasonable time frame. In assessing when funds can be obligated, FTA 
will consider whether the project qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion 
(CE), or whether the required environmental work has been initiated or 
completed for projects that require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. As such, applicants should 
submit information describing the project's anticipated path and 
timeline through the environmental review process. The proposal must 
state when grant funds can be obligated and indicate the timeframe 
under which the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) 
and/or Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) can be 
amended to include the proposed project.
    In assessing whether the proposed implementation plans are 
reasonable and complete, FTA will review the

[[Page 4353]]

proposed project implementation plan, including all necessary project 
milestones and the overall project timeline. For projects that will 
require formal coordination, approvals, or permits from other agencies 
or project partners, the applicant must demonstrate coordination with 
these organizations and their support for the project, such as through 
letters of support.
    For project proposals that involve a partnership with a 
manufacturer, vendor, consultant, or other third party, applicants must 
identify by name any project partners, including, but not limited to, 
other transit agencies, bus manufacturers, owners or operators of 
related facilities, or any expert consultants. FTA will evaluate the 
experience and capacity of the named project partners to successfully 
implement the proposed project based on the partners' experience and 
qualifications. Applicants are advised to submit information on the 
partners' qualifications and experience as a part of the application. 
Entities involved in the project that are not named in the application 
will be required to be selected through a competitive procurement.
f. Technical, Legal, and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal, 
and financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review 
relevant oversight assessments and records to determine whether there 
are any outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues with the 
applicant that would affect the outcome of the proposed project.

2. Review and Selection Process

    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the 
published evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation 
committee and other FTA staff may request additional information from 
applicants, if necessary. Based on the findings of the technical 
evaluation committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final 
selection of projects for program funding. In determining the 
allocation of program funds, FTA may consider geographic diversity, 
diversity in the size of the transit systems receiving funding, 
projects located in or that support public transportation service in a 
qualified opportunity zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z-1, 
the applicant's receipt of other competitive awards, the percentage of 
the local share provided, and whether the project includes an 
innovative technology or practice. FTA may consider capping the amount 
a single applicant may receive and prioritizing investments in rural 
areas. Projects that have a higher local financial commitment may also 
be prioritized.
    After applying the above criteria, the FTA Administrator will 
consider the following key Departmental objectives:
    a. Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level;
    b. Utilizing alternative funding sources and innovative financing 
models to attract non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment;
    c. Accounting for the life-cycle costs of the project to promote 
the state of good repair;
    d. Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite 
project delivery; and,
    e. Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and 
achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
    Prior to making an award, FTA is required to review and consider 
any information about the applicant that is in the Federal Award 
Performance and Integrity Information System accessible through SAM . 
An applicant may review and comment on any information about itself 
that a Federal awarding agency previously entered. FTA will consider 
any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in 
the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment 
about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of 
performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk 
posed by applicants as described in the Office of Management and 
Budget's Uniform Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200.205).

F. Federal Award Administration Information

    The FTA Administrator will announce the final project selections on 
the FTA website. Recipients should contact their FTA Regional Offices 
for additional information regarding allocations for projects under the 
Low-No Program. At the time the project selections are announced, FTA 
will extend pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no 
blanket pre-award authority for these projects before announcement.

1. Federal Award Notices

    Funds under the Low-No Program are available to States, designated 
recipients, local governmental authorities, and Indian Tribes. There is 
no minimum or maximum grant award amount; however, FTA intends to fund 
as many meritorious projects as possible. Only proposals from eligible 
recipients for eligible activities will be considered for funding. Due 
to funding limitations, applicants that are selected for funding may 
receive less than the amount originally requested. In those cases, 
applicants must be able to demonstrate that the proposed projects are 
still viable and can be completed with the amount awarded.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

a. Pre-Award Authority
    FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-award 
authority at the time of selection. FTA does not provide pre-award 
authority for competitive funds until projects are selected, and even 
then, there are Federal requirements that must be met before costs are 
incurred. For more information about FTA's policy on pre-award 
authority, please see the FY 2019 Apportionment Notice published on 
July 3, 2019. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-07-03/pdf/2019-14248.pdf.
b. Grant Requirements
    If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS). All Low-No Program recipients are 
subject to the grant requirements of the Urbanized Area Formula Grant 
program (49 U.S.C. 5307), including those of FTA Circular ``Urbanized 
Area Formula Program: Program Guidance and Application Instructions'' 
(FTA.C.9030.1E). All recipients must also follow the Award Management 
Requirements (FTA.C.5010.1) and the labor protections required by 
Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5333(b)). Technical 
assistance regarding these requirements is available from each FTA 
regional office.
c. Buy America
    FTA requires that all capital procurements meet FTA's Buy America 
requirements (49 U.S.C. 5323(j)), which require that all iron, steel, 
or manufactured products be produced in the United States. Federal 
public transportation law provides for a phased increase in the 
domestic content for rolling stock between FY 2016 and FY 2020. For FY 
2020 and beyond, the cost of components and subcomponents produced in 
the United States must be more than 70 percent of the cost of all 
components. There is no change to the requirement that final assembly 
of rolling stock must occur in the United

[[Page 4354]]

States. FTA issued guidance on the implementation of the phased 
increase in domestic content on September 1, 2016 (81 FR 60278). 
Applicants should read the policy guidance carefully to determine the 
applicable domestic content requirement for their project. Any proposal 
that will require a waiver must identify in the application the items 
for which a waiver will be sought. Applicants should not proceed with 
the expectation that waivers will be granted. Consistent with Executive 
Order 13858 Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure 
Projects, signed by President Trump on January 31, 2019, applicants 
should maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in 
the United States, in Federal procurements and through the terms and 
conditions of Federal financial assistance awards.
d. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
    FTA requires that its recipients receiving planning, capital, and/
or operating assistance that will award prime contracts exceeding 
$250,000 in FTA funds in a Federal fiscal year comply with Department 
of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program 
regulations (49 CFR part 26). Applicants should expect to include any 
funds awarded, excluding those to be used for vehicle procurements, in 
setting their overall DBE goal. Note, however, that projects including 
vehicle procurements remain subject to the DBE program regulations. The 
rule requires that, prior to bidding on any FTA-assisted vehicle 
procurement, entities that manufacture vehicles, or perform post-
production alterations or retrofitting, must submit a DBE program plan 
and goal methodology to FTA. Further, to the extent that a vehicle 
remanufacturer is responding to a solicitation for new or 
remanufactured vehicles with a vehicle to which the remanufacturer has 
provided post-production alterations or retrofitting (e.g., replacing 
major components such as an engine to provide a ``like new'' vehicle), 
the vehicle remanufacturer is considered a transit vehicle manufacturer 
and must also comply with the DBE regulations.
    FTA will then issue a transit vehicle manufacturer (TVM) 
concurrence/certification letter. Grant recipients must verify each 
entity's compliance with these requirements before accepting its bid. A 
list of compliant, certified TVMs is posted on FTA's web page at 
https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/civil-rights-ada/eligible-transit-vehicle-manufacturers. Please note that this list is 
nonexclusive, and recipients must contact FTA before accepting bids 
from entities not listed on this web-posting. Recipients may also 
establish project-specific DBE goals for vehicle procurements. FTA will 
provide additional guidance as grants are awarded. For more information 
on DBE requirements, please contact Scheryl Portee, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, 202-366-0840, email: scheryl.portee@dot.gov.
e. Planning
    FTA encourages applicants to notify the appropriate State 
Departments of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations 
in areas likely to be served by the project funds made available under 
these initiatives and programs. Selected projects must be incorporated 
into the long-range plans and transportation improvement programs of 
States and metropolitan areas before they are eligible for FTA funding. 
As described under the evaluation criteria, FTA may consider whether a 
project is consistent with or already included in these plans when 
evaluating a project.
f. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, directives, FTA 
circulars, and other Federal administrative requirements in carrying 
out any project supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges 
that it is under a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and 
conditions of the grant agreement issued for its project with FTA. The 
applicant understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
administrative practices might be modified from time to time and may 
affect the implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the 
most recent Federal requirements will apply to the project, unless FTA 
issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the 
Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant if it does not 
have current certifications on file.

3. Reporting

    Post-award reporting requirements include the electronic submission 
of Federal Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA's 
electronic grants management system. Recipients of funds made available 
through this NOFO are also required to regularly submit data to the 
National Transit Database.

G. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.'' FTA will consider 
applications for funding only from eligible recipients for eligible 
projects listed in Section C. Complete applications must be submitted 
through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 17, 2020. For 
issues with GRANTS.GOV, please contact GRANTS.GOV by phone at 1-800-
518-4726 or by email at support@grants.gov. Contact information for 
FTA's regional offices can be found on FTA's website at 

H. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice, please contact the 
Low-No Program manager, Victor Waldron, by phone at 202-366-5183, or by 
email at victor.waldron@dot.gov. A TDD is available for individuals who 
are deaf or hard of hearing at 800-877-8339. In addition, FTA will post 
answers to questions and requests for clarifications on FTA's website 
at https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/lowno. To ensure 
applicants receive accurate information about eligibility or the 
program, applicants are encouraged to contact FTA directly, rather than 
through intermediaries or third parties, with questions. FTA staff may 
also conduct briefings on the FY 2020 competitive grants selection and 
award process upon request.

K. Jane Williams,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2020-01140 Filed 1-23-20; 8:45 am]

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